#romancescams | Bank staff help 52 people avoid scams, police say

Warm weather tends to bring out money scams, but workers at Taipei banks and convenience stores helped 52 people have a victim-free summer by preventing transfers totaling more than NT$28 million (US$903,809), according to the Taipei City Police Department.

Taipei Police Commissioner Chen Jia-chang (???) instructed all police units to keep channels of communication open with banks, convenience stores and shops so that employees could take action if they suspect someone to be the victim of a scam, the department said on Friday.

Of the 52 transfers that were intercepted by banks and convenience stores in July and last month, 22 cases, or 42 percent, were friendship or romance scams.

In one romance scam, a woman surnamed Lee (?) met a man who claimed to be Chinese-American on an online dating site, the Zhongzheng First Precinct said.

The man, nicknamed “Lan,” gained Lee’s trust after messaging her every day and Lee, who thought she had found her soulmate, went to a bank to transfer US$15,000 to Lan after he told her that he was a petroleum engineer working in Turkey who needed financial help, the department said.

The bank employee, suspecting that Lee might be the victim of a scam, telephoned the police, and an officer, who determined that Lee had never met Lan in person or talked with him over video chat, showed her news reports about similar scam techniques, eventually convincing her to not send the money, it said.

An Indonesian woman working in Taiwan was befriended by someone on a social networking site who claimed to be a US doctor, it said, adding that the “friend” convinced her to transfer US$2,950 to him so that he could travel to see her.

The transfer was delayed by a bank employee who telephoned the police, the department said.

The department said that it has few officers, but that when employees at banks and convenience stores suspect costumers are caught up in a scam because they withdraw large amounts or display other abnormal behavior, and promptly report it to the police, it can help many more people from becoming scam victims and enjoy their summers.

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